We encountered our first three-peat (a female we’ve seen three times this season) turtle on April 25. Aussie, a female notably missing a large portion of her front right flipper, nested previously on April 6 and April 16. We are excited to have seen her three times already and are hoping to see her again this season!
Top: Aussie while she laid her clutch of eggs on April 16. Photo credit: Christina Coppenrath
Bottom: LMC research technician Christina Coppenrath measuring Aussie. Photo credit: Dr. Justin Perrault.
Other repeat females we’ve encountered recently are Adele, Pyxis, Wildfire, and Star. Star nested on April 21 and May 1. We first encountered Adele on April 25 and saw her again on May 6. Pyxis nested in Juno Beach on April 9 and April 30. We encountered Wildfire on April 11 and on May 1.Given the gap between Both Pyxis’s and Wildfire’s nests (leatherbacks typically nest every 8-10 days), they most likely nested one other time in between the two encounters. It is possible that they nested on other beaches nearby.
Pyxis on April 30. The bottom photo shows the unique beak, or rhamphotheca, that leatherbacks have. Leatherback mouths are specialized for grasping and tearing through their jellyfish prey. Photo credits: Kate Fraser.
Wildfire nested up on the dune on May 1. This can sometimes pose a problem with digging the nest chamber but Wildfire was able to dig her nest and lay her clutch of eggs successfully. Photo credits: Christina Coppenrath
Star actually nested at almost the exact same time as Wildfire on May 1. They nested close to one another too! Photo credit: Christina Coppenrath
An beautiful remigrant that we encountered recently was Electra. She was the biggest female to date, measuring 169 cm in shell length. That is one big mama!
While leatherbacks lay their nests, LMC technicians have to work fast to collect their samples. Here, Dr. Justin Perrault and research intern Grace Dodillet are visible with their red lights behind her. Photo credit: Christina Coppenrath
We are getting into peak season and are keeping busy. We will keep you updated about who else we see!
Disclaimer: All marine turtle images taken in Florida were obtained with the approval of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles. Images were acquired while conducting authorized research activities pursuant to FWC MTP-18-205.